How do you write the perfect funeral speech for your belly-dancing, beekeeping, tarot-reading, honkytonk-fiddling mom? In her UK debut show, “How To Write A Eulogy That Kills”, coming to the Edinburgh Festival this August, Angela Beevers (Beavis & Butt-head, Silicon Valley) enlists the help of FreeEulogy.com to try to honour her eccentric, quirky mother in the best way possible.
We talked to Angela to learn more about the show.
‘How to Write a Eulogy that Kills’ is about the loss of your mom and the experience of having to write her eulogy. What made you decide to bring that story to the stage, almost a decade later?
I’ve been working on this show for several years — and had hoped to bring it in 2020, actually. (We all know why I didn’t, no need to get into it, lol that year sucked, right?)
Anyway, as I’ve been putting the show together for this run, I’ve realized that it’s been so long that I’ve actually forgotten a lot about my mother. The immediacy of the memories I had when I was younger is fading away in a scary but also comforting way. Doing this show, re-watching old footage, looking at pictures, and thinking back on memories is a really great way to keep myself from forgetting the things I don’t want to forget and celebrate the parts of her that when I was younger, I just couldn’t understand. I do really love doing this show, and I’ve always wanted to go to the Fringe, so that’s of course another primary reason for doing it.
Was it tough to find humour in grief? And has the process of creating and developing the show been cathartic?
No, it’s actually not hard for me to find humour in grief, because I find humour in everything, whether I want to or not. But grief is especially funny weirdly, because it’s so eerie and heightened and just plain weird. Nobody wants to talk about it, probably because it makes everyone uncomfortable. But once you do, almost everyone has a funny grief story. It’s honestly soooo awkward to die. Or watch somebody die. It’s wild. And yes, it’s definitely been cathartic to be very honest and tell “the story” of it all. Cause I’m an only child and I witnessed all of this crazy stuff and had no one to talk to about it. Now I can tell audiences all about how weird it was on my mother’s deathbed when I had to listen to her musical for the very first time. That’s not everyone’s experience for sure, but I do still think it’s weirdly relatable.
Your mom is a central – albeit absent – character in the show. Can you tell us a bit more about her?
Sure. My mom was a bellydancer. A honkytonk fiddler. A quality assurance specialist on our family bee farm. A renaissance faire worker. A palm and tarot card reader. A special education teacher. And of course, an awesome mom.
For all of those interests she was oddly very shy, which you’d never guess, but it’s true. She could be really private, even though she had this exciting, crazy life. Every so often she’d drop little titbits about herself, like that she was pretty sure her dad was a CIA agent (we’ll never know if this is true), or that she was a volunteer firefighter, or that she’d been arrested for protesting, or that she definitely saw a UFO, or that when she was 16 she got drunk, fell at a pool and knocked out her front teeth so most of her teeth were fake. But she wouldn’t go into detail about any of this, she’d just sort of sprinkle these little mysterious facts about herself.
She was very cool, weird, and unique. A really smart person with a lot of business acumen (a math major at Stanford) but who also kept gigantic files of horoscopes, sort of like dossiers, on her family and best friends, but it was just chart after chart of star signs. She was a true one of a kind.
You have quite the Hollywood CV – how does working in Hollywood compare with taking a one-woman show on the road?
I think the two are pretty tied together – it’s just producing, which is being creative in the way that you ask other people for help. In the middle of doing all this admin, paperwork, organization, etc you’re also having to be totally creative and put out really strong smart writing and creativity. But you have to do both — you can’t get behind on one or the other.
There’s a lot of imposter syndrome involved in both parts of this. I’ve had my job for 7 years and I’m still pinching myself and worried one day everyone’s gonna wake up and realize I’m just a weird girl who grew up on a bee farm and doesn’t belong here. And same goes for the stage — it’s hard to convince yourself that you can share a stage with 3000 other amazing shows, but if you don’t force yourself to try, you’ll always wonder if you could have done it.
I have learned over the years to cold email everyone and anyone that I want to learn from or meet with — and a lot of the time I am so surprised that people are not only open to replying but often are happy to meet up and give advice. I apply this sort of ‘you’ll never know if you don’t try’ attitude to all the work I do, whether that’s producing live shows or tv shows.
If you had to explain in 5 words why someone should come and see your show in Edinburgh this summer, what would you say?
Bellydance. Grief thirst-traps. Vibrator. Wine.
Angela Beevers will perform How To Write A Eulogy That Kills at the Edinburgh Festival at 11pm in Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose (Snug) from 2nd – 27th August (Not 14th). To book, visit https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/event/14:4936/